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Title: Growing up in the Third Reich : representations of childhood under Nazism in post-1990 German culture
Author: Lloyd, Alexandra Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 3141
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines post-1990 representations of growing up in the Third Reich within German culture. It has two primary aims: to demonstrate how childhood is recalled, represented, and imagined by those with, and without first-hand experience of Nazism; and to situate these narratives as a central part of the post-Unification discourse about identity in the Berlin Republic. The material is organised into five chapters: it begins with an analysis of recent museum displays and exhibitions, followed by German cinema (Hitlerjunge Salomon, NaPolA: Elite für den Führer); autobiographical works, by former members of the Hitler Youth (Günter de Bruyn, Martin Walser, Günter Grass) and by Jewish children (Ruth Klüger, Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt, Günter Kunert); and finally, imagined accounts of growing up in the Third Reich (W.G. Sebald, Binjamin Wilkomirski, Gudrun Pausewang). Through close readings of primary sources, and analysis of their reception, including the public debates which they sparked, this study shows how these narratives interact with historical and contemporary notions of childhood. They are informed by the concern, embedded within post-Unification discourse, that the wealth of documentary and technical accounts of Nazism obscures the individual’s understanding of those events and what it was like to experience them. I argue that because of the close conceptual association between childhood and origins, these narratives contribute to a discourse about how the Third Reich is to be remembered, performing a 'search for a usable childhood'. This is situated within the context of Harald Welzer's notion of 'gefühlte Geschichte'; that is a mode of historical discourse focused on experience, rather than 'factual knowledge', and which appeals to emotions. In assessing narratives of growing up – which take a developmental view of childhood – this study seeks to open up previously rigid categorisations of childhood as found in literary studies which focus on the function of the child’s perspective as a literary device. Thus within a crowded research area the present study offers a differentiated treatment of these works.
Supervisor: Leeder, Karen Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: German ; Literatures of Germanic languages ; History of childhood ; Childhood ; literature ; film ; museum studies ; Third Reich